PBA, WTBA unveil international tour

PBA Communications
For first time in bowling history, American professional stars to compete for titles around the world

LAS VEGAS - The Professional Bowlers Association and the World Tenpin Bowling Association Wednesday announced an historic agreement that will result in the first true global professional bowling tour.

The alliance between the PBA and the WTBA, the international governing body for tenpin bowling in the eyes of the International Olympic Committee, will allow international and domestic PBA members who compete in World Bowling Tour events to earn PBA Tour titles in WBT events and to bowl in PBA Tour events in the United States.

"This agreement fulfills a dream for all lifelong bowling fans," said PBA Commissioner Tom Clark. "We created the PBA World Series of Bowling in 2009 to give bowlers from around the world an opportunity to come together in a unique competitive environment. Our goal was to take the next step in expanding competition around the world. To see it happen is the most significant step our sport has ever taken in creating world-wide awareness and recognition for bowling's best players, regardless of where they live."

WTBA President Kevin Dornberger said that the alliance is just the beginning.

"We are greatly indebted to the international bowling federations and tournament hosts who have given us the opportunity to create the World Bowling Tour," said Dornberger. "We sincerely believe this alliance will lead to even bigger things."

PBA CEO Geoff Reiss said the expanded relationship between the PBA and WTBA has the potential to lead to greater marketing and sponsorship opportunities.

"The PBA is ecstatic over the overwhelming acceptance and support we have received from the World Tenpin Bowling Association's leadership in making this relationship happen," Reiss said. "For the sport of bowling, we have literally opened an entire new world of possibilities."

The agreement was finalized during a meeting in Las Vegas between PBA leadership and WTBA's Executive Board (Christer Jonsson, Secretary-General, Sweden; Addie Ophelders, ETBF President, Netherlands; Jose Guandique, PABCON President, El Salvador; Pekka Korpi, First Vice-President, Finland; Vivien Lau, FIQ Secretary-General and ABF Past President, Hong Kong; Dornberger, FIQ and WTBA President and CEO; Mike Seymour, Vice-President, WTBA and the Australia Tenpin Bowling Federation; Kim Jensen, ETBF Vice President, Denmark, and Veronica Rajii, 1st VP of PABCON, Chile.

The 2012 World Bowling Tour began in January with the Brunswick Ballmaster Open in Helsinki, Finland, which was won by Bill O'Neill of Southampton, Pa. The PBA-WBT agreement includes three tournaments in the United States (the Alka-Seltzer Plus Liquid Gels United States Bowling Congress Masters, won by Mike Fagan of Dallas in Las Vegas on Sunday; a new WTBA International Open currently underway in Las Vegas, and the U.S. Open Feb. 20-26 in North Brunswick, N.J.)

Other events will include stops in Japan, Kuwait, France, the Bahamas, Korea, Thailand, Austria and Australia. Players who bowl in the WBT events will earn points toward the second annual World Bowling Tour Finals presented by the PBA, which will be held during the 2012 PBA World Series of Bowling on a date to be announced.

WBT points are compiled over a cumulative span of two years. The top three men and three top women in WBT points will bowl for $20,000 first prizes in November during the fourth PBA World Series of Bowling. The finals will be televised by ESPN.

Beginning with the U.S. Open, all international and domestic PBA members who win WBT-PBA titles will be eligible to bowl in the end-of-season PBA Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas. PBA members will receive credit for official PBA Tour earnings from WBT events, but will only earn PBA Tour competition points in the USBC Masters and U.S. Open.

A new PBA international membership is available for non-domestic players. For information, call the PBA Membership Services at 206-654-6025.

While several WBT events allow women to compete in their own category, women will be eligible for PBA Tour titles only if they compete as equals against their male counterparts. Two events on the WBT schedule are for women only and will not be part of the PBA agreement.

Tournament formats and prize money will be announced later.

Jan. 6-15 - Brunswick Ballmaster Open, Tali Bowling Center, Helsinki, Finland, (men's winner: Bill O'Neill, Southampton, Pa.; women's winner: Krista P”ll„nen, Finland; WBT points only).
Jan. 23-29 - Alka-Seltzer Plus Liquid Gels United States Bowling Congress Masters, Sunset Station's Strike Zone, Henderson, Nev. (winner: Mike Fagan, Dallas; PBA title and PBA/WBT points awarded).
Jan. 28-Feb. 5 - WTBA International Open, Sunset Station's Strike Zone, Henderson, Nev. (WBT points only).
Feb. 7-11 - International Bowling Championship 2012 supported by DHC, Hakata Star Lanes, Hakata, Japan (WBT points only).
Feb. 20-26 - 69th U.S. Open, Brunswick Zone Carolier, North Brunswick, N.J. (PBA title and PBA/WBT points awarded).
March 15-19 - 9th Kuwait International Open, Cozmo Bowling Center, Kuwait City, Kuwait (PBA title and WBT points awarded).
March 16-25 - Brunswick Euro Challenge, Plaza Saint Maximin, Saint Maximin, France (PBA title and WBT points awarded).
April 19-24 - USBC Queens (non-PBA event), AMF Euless Lanes, Euless, Texas.
May 14-20 - Bahamas International Bowling Classic, Mario's Bowling and Entertainment Palace, Nassau, Bahamas (PBA title and WBT points awarded).
June 16-21 - Daejeon International Open, Daejeon World Cup Bowling Center, Daejeon, Korea (PBA title and WBT points awarded).
June 22-28 - Bowling's U.S. Women's Open (non-PBA event), National Bowling Stadium, Reno, Nev.
Sept. 24-30 - PTT World Bowling Tour Thailand, center to be announced, Bangkok, Thailand (PBA title and WBT points awarded).
Oct. 2-7 - 10th Columbia 300 Vienna Open, Plus Bowling, Vienna, Austria (PBA title and WBT points awarded).
Oct. 8-27 - AMF Australian Masters, center to be announced, Sydney, Australia (PBA title and WBT points awarded).